In this engrossing mashup of chick lit, mystery and romance, Hurley (The Prodigal, 2013, etc.) conjures up experiences that provoke three beautiful young women marred by failure and disappointment to question traditional values (church and family).
Once on Martha’s Vineyard, mystical, life-altering events (as well as sexual encounters) come to the three friends in rapid succession. Sweet, 32-year-old, suicidal Charlotte Harris arrives via ferry, and she carries an urn with her daughter’s ashes. She’s ostensibly there to indulge in a reunion with her old college pals, the glamorous sexpot Turner Graham and the single, athletic and free-spirited Dory Delano (who welcomes both as guests in her elegant Edgartown home). Dory immediately asks Charlotte (who is ready to slip off and kill herself) to find Enoch, a soft-spoken man known as “the fisherman.” When she accidentally hands him her suicide note instead of Dory’s shopping list, he reads it. His advice? Swim off Gay Head where currents are strongest. While readers may suspect Charlotte’s efforts to drown herself will fail, her implausible, nearly miraculous rescue, not to mention Dory’s own subsequent experience with the miraculous, and Enoch’s unselfish, peaceful behavior create a riptide of curiosity. While not philosophically deep, the novel is addictive, escapist reading that features stock figures such as Dory’s beau, Trafalgar “Tripp” Wallace the Third, who squanders his family’s old money, and Father Tommy Vecchio, who gives priests a bad name. Some facile generalizations about Roman Catholicism weaken the story, but clever biblical parallels and metaphors that run underneath the surface add intrigue. The skippable final chapters offer a secular explanation of Enoch, which seems unnecessary to all but the most literal-minded readers. Readers may want to stop reading after the deliriously satisfying conclusion and just enjoy a peek into the lives of the filthy rich.
A real sense of place makes this recommended read almost as much fun as the Vineyard in July.